Thursday, March 21, 2013

Inspiration: Car Rides, Conversation and Puns

A weekly blog hop where writers share their inspirations. Please join us!

My son and I are busy people. Our days are rushed and so are our conversations unless we’re in the car traveling to or from his sports practices. Seatbelted and trapped in traffic, we talk about all kinds of things from deep insights to silly observations to his tastes in music and my questions about technology. Lately, he’s been on a pun kick. Here are 13 he’s shared with me.

  1. What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus!
  2. What does a clock do when it's hungry? It goes back four seconds.
  3. I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.
  4. Broken pencils are pointless.
  5. I tried to work out for seven days, but I was too week.
  6. I did a theoretical speech on puns, it was a play on words.
  7. I learned sign language the other day, its pretty handy.
  8. I know a guy who's addicted to brake fluid, but it's okay, he says he can stop anytime.
  9. What is a requirement for being a pope? You have to be Pope-u-lar.
  10. That new weed whacker is cutting hedge technology.
  11. I've been to the dentist several times so I know the drill.
  12. I get my large circumference from too much pi.
  13. She got fired from the hot dog stand for putting her hair in a bun.

Someday, my son will be old enough to drive himself to his extracurricular events, but hopefully, we’ll still have interesting conversations. Perhaps, I’ll collect some puns to tell him. Do you know any? Please share.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

EPIC Award Winner!

Let me tell you a story of the little book that could. Back in 2003 or so, I had this idea for a story about reincarnated soul mates from Pompeii who excavate their own bodies 2000 years after they died tragically in the eruption of Vesuvius. It took me 2 years to write it. It was the book of my heart. In 2005, that manuscript landed me an agent who believed in the story as much as I did. He shopped it around to the big NY publishers. Then the rejections started coming in. Not sexy enough for the paranormal market. Too much humor, only dark paranormals are selling. But we did get one ‘maybe.’ It climbed up the editorial ladder and they loved it…with a big BUT. They wanted me to reset the WWII time setting (the 2nd half of the book) as a contemporary. But that would mean so much more than changing a few dates and the clothes they wore. It would have changed everything about the characters. I couldn’t do it. So I took the book of my heart, put it in a drawer, and moved on.

Fast-forward to 2011. Indie publishing was busting out of the closet and turning the publishing industry on its head. Friends urged me to try it. They said that indie publishing was perfect for books that were good but didn’t fit in the NY box. I pulled my little book out, dusted it off and sent my baby out into the world, self-publishing it in March of 2012.

OUT of the ASHES did okay. It wasn’t shooting up the bestseller lists, but I didn’t expect it to. After all, I was an unknown author with no following, no fan base. The book was set in odd time periods (ancient Pompeii and WWII Italy). After a good start and some great reviews, ASHES settled into obscurity on Amazon.

Still, I believed in the book of my heart and started entering it in published author contests. The EPIC Awards was the first. I was shocked when they told me I’d finaled. When I checked out the other finalists in the paranormal romance category, I figured ASHES was a long shot to win. How could my light paranormal with bumbling guardian angels stand up against hot vampires and sexy shape-shifters? Then last week I found a package sitting in my mailbox. It was a lovely trophy (it’s clear plexiglass and doesn’t photograph well or I’d post a picture of it.) Evidently, since the organizers knew I wasn’t going to be at EPICon, they sent the award ahead of time. I had to re-read the letter several times before I believed I was the winner. And then I had to keep it a secret until all the winners were announced on Saturday evening. Talk about torture! So now I can shout it to the world:

OUT of the ASHES is the winner of the 2013 EPIC Award for Best Paranormal Romance!

The stars must have aligned for me, because it just so happens that Ereader News Today featured ASHES as a bargain book yesterday. No, I didn’t plan the timing to coincide with the EPIC Awards. I was doing the ENT ad for ASHES one year birthday so it was a fluke. But it worked. Between the EPIC Award and the ENT ad, ASHES has landed on two bestseller lists on Amazon as of this morning:  #22 in Historical Romance and #27 in Paranormal Romance.  I am beyond thrilled. It took a year, but the book of my heart is finally shining.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Too Much Information. Really!

Information Overload.

 The new reality. One hundred years ago, humans knew very little beyond their own geographic area. Now we can virtually visit the world from wherever we are. Now information from literally every area of the world is available to us either electronically, or in some form of paper. A few days after the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan, I was on Twitter when an acquaintance Twitted there was another earthquake. Thankfully, it wasn’t nearly as bad as the first one. What amazes me is that I knew, in real time, what was happening on the other side of the world.

Today we get information in real time. We get information from all over the world. We get information that we agree with—and information that makes us frustrated or angry. And it comes at us constantly. Computers, cell phones, television (which are everywhere), billboards, and on and on.

This much information coming at us so fast and hard from so many sources is wearing on a person. We can feel the fatigue at the end of the day from trying to assimilate too much in too short a time. It’s impossible, really. But what can we do?

I’m certainly not an expert, just somebody as overwhelmed as you are. How about I tell you some things that have worked for me, and you tell me what’s worked for you? That way, information is being used for good  :)

1. Taking a day away from technology. There was recently a National Day of Unplugging  I signed up, and it was a great experience—and an eye opening one. To be honest, I try to take one day away from the rush every week. It wasn’t until I’d promised publically to stay away from technology that I realized how much I’ve been missing the mark.

2. Take frequent breaks. Look at the window. Close your eyes, look at a picture, listen to your favorite music while not doing anything else. Even five minutes makes a difference. I know I was surprised at how good it felt.

3. Get away from the information sources prior to bedtime. Don’t take your cell or laptop to bed. Let it go. Relax. Again, even a few minutes seems to make a difference.

4. Keep firmly in your mind that you can’t read, respond to, help, or support everybody and everything. It took me a while to get that through my hard head, but it was freeing when I finally did.

Now it’s your turn. What helps you deal with information overload?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Inspiration from News

What inspires you? That’s the question that Rhiann Wynn-Nolet and Kristina Perez ask writers in the Thursdays Child blog hop. Here’s my answer this week.

One thing that provokes ideas and thoughts for me is the news. The evening of February 28th, a man named Jeffrey Bush was sleeping when a sinkhole opened beneath him. Unfortunately, before help could reach him, the hole swallowed Mr. Bush. Apparently, unknown to all, Mr. Bush’s home sat atop a 100 foot wide cavern. He’s missing and presumed dead.

Tragic and shocking news. My condolences go out to his family and I wonder—how could this happen? What causes sink holes? How quickly do they develop? Are there any warning signs? 

To find answers, I appeal to Google. Here are 13 facts, I've gathered.

  1. Sinkholes have many names. They’re also called: sinks, snake holes, swallow holes, swallets, donines and cenotes.
  2. Sinkholes form when the ground is unstable. The surface may be comprised of clay or sand, but underneath there’s the presence of an aquifer, a layer of water-bearing permeable rock, most likely limestone.
Poster from the Florida Sinkhole Research Institute (link below)

  1. Limestone dissolves readily. Usually, this happens over time, and is unnoticed under the surface of the earth.
  2. Sometimes, however, heavy rains can trigger sink holes.
  3. Some warning signs that a sink hole may be forming are--trees or fence poles suddenly sagging or leaning.
  4. Inside homes, doors and windows abruptly refusing to close properly may be a sign of a sinkhole developing.
  5. Another clue to a growing sinkhole is water collecting in a place, where it never did before, a new pond forming.
  6. Another sign of a sinkhole might be plants dying abruptly. This may indicate changes in the water table.
  7. Most sinkholes are annoying, but not deadly. Often times, repairs can stop or shrink a sinkhole when it’s caught early.
  8. Engineers inject grout into the hole. The process is a lot like how dentists fill a cavity. The hardening grout can stabilize the water-dissolved bedrock.
  9. The central section of Florida is known for its marshy terrain, heavy rains and frequent bedrock collapses. Apparently, according to one source, the state possesses about 15,000 known sinkholes.
  10. Sometimes the lack of water contributes to sinkholes. Some underground cavities are filled with water, which actually hold up a thin overhang of earth. When the water level falls, the overhang loses its support and a hole forms.
  11. Sinkholes can be as small as 3 feet in circumference or as large as 2000 feet in diameter or depth. One of the most distinctive is the Qattara Depression in Egypt. It is 436 feet deep, 75 miles wide and 50 miles long.
 Qattara depression by Dixton selected for Google Earth.

I’m going to file the information I've gathered about sinkholes. Perhaps it will appear in story or perhaps not. I’m fine either way. I love learning new things, so I tune in CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, 60 Minutes or Fox News. Often I find the stories there prove the saying, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”

Do newscasts influence you? Cause you to change your mind? Or confirm what you already believe? Please share.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What Is It About That Middle?

By Eilis Flynn

For a long time I had the perfect excuse not to finish my latest book: my hands hurt. I had carpal tunnel in both hands and there was an annoying tingling and numbness when I didn’t take frequent breaks. This was very tricky for my dayjob, which requires long periods of using a keyboard and mousing around. So I spent most of my nontingling time with my hands working at the dayjob.

But by the end of 2012, I had had both hands operated on and that tingling and numbness went away for the most part. I was free! Free, I tell you! But I had to get back to that latest book. Because that middle of the book was still there, and mocking me, the way it had been for the better part of two years.

Those of you who’ve ever written a book and found yourself staring at your manuscript can tell everyone else what a big pain that middle is. The premise is set, the beginning is done, and even the end is there, but then there’s the middle – even with the synopsis in front of you, that middle is still mocking you. What is it about that middle? It’s all in my synopsis, and it spins the story, using threads established at the beginning and finishing off at the end. That synopsis worked just fine at the beginning, and there aren’t any expectations of problems for following it at the end, but somehow the middle is just sitting there like a lump.

The usual answer when this sort of thing happens is that your story needs to be reworked. That may be so, but where to start? At the beginning, unfortunately. As a result, I have read and reread the work in progress, trying to figure out what it is that’s gone awry. I know I’ll find it eventually, but it seems to be mocking me still. After a while, I know I’ll have to do with that WIP what a mechanic does with a particularly pesky problem with a vehicle: you take it apart.

Fortunately, I just came into a chunk of free time. I know what I’m going to be doing. I’m going to be playing pretend-mechanic and take my pretend-wrench and unscrew every single plot point and … well, you get the idea.

Neither hand tingles anymore, but they’re achy (now, it's tendinitis). It’s always something. It’s always something, isn’t it?

Eilis Flynn can be found to argue with at Facebook, Twitter, or at her website at